Everyone knows the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, but there could be another STD that is just as dangerous: sexually transmitted debt. Learning to avoid it can make your life healthier, easier, and more profitable.
It’s a common tale: you enter into a relationship with someone and start to share financial information, including joint bank accounts or shared loans for a house or car.
Then, when the relationship is over, you are stuck with their debt and paying for their financial mistakes long after the memories of the relationship fade.
In fact, in many countries, you can be liable for a partner’s debt if the marriage or civil union doesn’t work out. Sexually transmitted debt includes becoming financially responsible for a partner’s debt either after taking out the debt in your own name or cosigning as a secondary borrower.
Studies have found that women tend to be more susceptible to sexually transmitted debt, though no one is immune to its danger.
Sexually transmitted debt can be an expensive reminder of a past relationship, and it can take years to recover from the cost of paying off the debt and the additional interest or legal fees.
Instead of throwing your money down the drain with a financial STD, plan ahead and try to it. Here are a few ways to do so:
Openness and honesty are the keys to any successful relationship, especially when it comes to finances. Talk about debt early in your relationship so you can know what kind of debt your partner has and how they manage their money.
Look out for any red flags like previous partners still paying their debts or spending patterns that don’t seem to add up. It might not be a fun conversation to have, but it sets the stage and keeps you on the same financial page.
If your financial situation changes during the relationship, be honest with your partner and hope that they will do the same for you.
Just because you’re in love doesn’t mean deception can’t happen. Pay attention to your joint loans and accounts for signs that your partner is misusing money or not being completely honest.
It’s easier to catch the problem earlier than to wait until large amounts of money have been spent.
If your partner is wary of letting you see statements from the joint accounts and insists of taking care of all of the finances that you share, it could be a red flag.
Read the Fine Print
Don’t be overwhelmed by legal jargon. Take the time to fully read a contract and know what you are agreeing to, especially if it involves a loan.
Don’t sign something just because your partner is pushing you to do it—take the time to fully understand what kind of debt you are taking on.
If needed, talk to a trusted family member or professional to get advice on if you should sign something.
Have Separate and Joint Accounts
Joint accounts can be incredibly convenient, especially when it comes to paying for things you have together, like a mortgage payment or family expenses.
However, a separate credit card or bank account also gives you freedom for the worst-case scenario.
A partner could potentially empty out a joint account within you knowing it, but the separate account will always belong to just you.
Talk to the Bank
If the relationship ends and you have a joint bank account or mortgage, don’t waste time before talking with your banker about the appropriate steps to take.
The bank will likely be able to provide guidance for the next steps to take to minimize the financial fallout.
Sexually transmitted debt can be devastating to your bank account and credit score. Trust your instincts and try not to be deceived by a loving relationship when it comes to finances.